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Have you been waiting on God to answer your prayers, or fulfill His promises to you?  If so, you may want to consider a few things that can cause significant delays.  Things such as...  - Going in the direction of our choosing, or the timing of our choosing, and expecting God to make things materialize.  - Praying for God to do something, or give us something, without regard to what He's asking of us personally.  - And, intervening in situations to try to make something happen.  There are exceptions, of course, but sometimes participating in these things can result in significant delays.  The reason is, sometimes there are specific choices we need to make, or knowledge we must gain, in order to receive what God has for us.  However, these things often aim to bypass God's work in us, even if that isn't our intention.  God longs to give each of us the desires of our heart, but only He knows the route we must take in order to receive them.  Take time to search out that route by seeking God's direction first.  Don't make choices based on what you believe will fulfill your desires the quickest, but rather on what God says to do.  Then the answers you have been waiting for will manifest in the right way, at the right time.  Proverbs 10:22, Galatians 6:9

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)  God Bless You, and Merry Christmas!

The label "hypocrite" is thrown about quite liberally by some today.  And, in fact, there are hypocrites among us.  However, there are also those who misuse the word, labeling people falsely, sometimes even for their own purposes.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.  My dad used to smoke.  When I was young he told me, "Don't ever smoke, it can be really hard to quit."  By some people's definition, this would be considered hypocritical since he told me not to do something that he himself did; but that's not hypocrisy.  In fact, that was exactly what he should have told me, and he shouldn't have waited until he had quit smoking to do so as some might suggest.  You see, dad understood there was a better road, because he had walked a worse one.  He understood that the road he chose was difficult to come back from, and he wanted to spare me from that.  That's not hypocrisy, that's conveying wisdom according to one's own knowledge, experience and understanding.  Actual hypocrisy is the false portrayal of character, virtue or beliefs.  It's pretending to be something we're not -- sometimes unknowingly -- and especially while shaming or condemning others for not living up to our standards.  This is very different from stating the truth, yet failing to live it out perfectly.  And that difference is rooted in humility.  Don't allow others to use this tactic to silence you from speaking the truth simply because you fail to live up to God's word fully.  The truth is the truth whether we live it perfectly or not.  However, be careful when speaking boldly against sin.  Be certain to not condemn anyone.  Be humble and wise, offering encouragement, guidance and truth, so that you yourself would not be found to be a hypocrite.  1 Timothy 1:12-17 & Matthew 23:1-32, 7:3-5

I occasionally hear people recount some tragedy, or some terrible injustice, only to follow up with, "How could there be a God with all this evil in the world?" -- as if God should always intervene before bad things can happen.  While this is often recited by those who don't believe in God, or those who want to poke Him in the eye, it isn't too terribly difficult to understand if we are being intellectually honest.  Consider this: If we blame God for not stopping people from doing bad things, then shouldn't we expect the same for ourselves?  When we lie, steal, commit adultery, act out in anger or vengeance, commit any number of other sins, or act contrary to God's nature, are we expecting God to forcibly stop us from doing so?  More importantly, would we want Him to?  We may believe we aren’t as bad as other people, but to God, there is no difference between them and us.  (Romans 2:11)  So when we decry God for not stopping someone else, we are actually advocating for God to remove our freedom of choice as well.  I don't think any of us wants that, including God.  The bottom line is, God isn't responsible for the poor choices people make.  And actually, He does intervene, but the primary way He intervenes is to impress upon all of us to do what is right.  However, regrettably, not everyone listens, and many pay the price for it.  Choose to do what is right according to God's ways.  (Joshua 1:8, Galatians 5:22-23)  We may believe our actions are inconsequential, or that the ends justify the means, but there are many today who are behaving emotionally, immorally, even dogmatically, whom are causing far more damage to themselves and others than they realize.  Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  ...  Now choose life...

I've spent a lot of time learning to discern God's voice from other voices.  In doing so, one thing I learned was just how monumentally important it is for us to not add to His word -- written or otherwise.  While many of us desire to hear God speak, or understand His word better, we must make every effort to avoid adding to it.  If we don't, when proven false, these additions will cause people harm.  Some will be left disappointed and disheartened.  Some will mistakenly wonder why God failed them.  And some will even become jaded or fall away.  I've seen it happen, and many will never return to God.  Don't allow it to happen to you, and be certain not to bring it upon others.  There are (at least) three major mistakes people make when discerning God's voice and direction -- learn to recognize and avoid them.  #1 - Taking Gods word to its logical conclusion: We may believe we can complete God's word, or deduce His next step, but we can't.  God doesn't follow our logic.  If He didn't make it known, leave it blank.  #2 - Finding similarities or correlations: God often builds upon His previous words.  However, for us to search for correlations to build upon His word is a mistake.  Instead, let God make His word known.  #3 - Deriving a word from circumstance: God's inspiration should come prior to thoughts, feelings, or circumstance.  If it doesn't, we may be doing it backwards.  Be certain you're hearing, not dictating.  Sometimes it's a fine line we have to walk, and we need to be very aware of ourselves and our thought processes.  Be sure assumptions don't taint God's word, and wait for proper confirmations from God.  Proverbs 30:5-6 (NIV) Every word of God is flawless ... Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.


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